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That Same Old Problem

What To Do About Jesus

The article below was published by Arutz Sheva News Service on Nov. 16, 1999 for its electronic news service constituency. I found it interesting by the mere fact that even after centuries of living in exile, the nation, now newly formed, is right back having to deal with the same problem they had prior to their dispersion; which is stifling the joy and missionary efforts of Jews who have believed in Jesus as Messiah. My rebuttal to the article follows:

Missionary Activity Among New Immigrants

Adi Eldar, head of the Center for Local Government, has blamed the police for neglecting missionary activity among new immigrants. In an appeal to Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Eldar asked that the police be directed to deal with the hundreds of missionaries who "take advantage of the difficult economic and social conditions in which tens of thousands of new immigrants find themselves" to prevail upon them to leave Judaism. "This problem is a threat to the Jewish character of the State of Israel," wrote Eldar. The law forbids offering material compensation as an inducement to convert to a different religion, while attempting to convince a minor to convert is illegal under all circumstances.

Binyamin Kluger - a former Christian missionary who later converted to Judaism and now works with the Yad L'Achim organization to protect Jews from missionary activity - strongly agrees with Eldar. "Missionaries in Israel mainly take advantage of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and such activity is increasing as we draw near the end of the millenium," he told Arutz-7 today. "One sect here even promised them 500 shekels a month to convert to Christianity. The fact that this is against the law does not bother them," Kluger said. "They transgress other Israeli laws, too. For instance, Israeli law states that a Jew who has forsaken his religion for another faith [is not entitled to automatic citizenship under the Law of Return]. Some years ago, the Supreme Court determined that 'Messianic Jews' are to be considered Christians. But this doesn't stop them from lying to the Interior Ministry and the Jewish Agency about their real beliefs - all of this in order to receive immigrant rights and benefits."

Kluger provided a look at what he called the missionaries' "deceptive tactics:" "In my work as a missionary before I came to Israel, we were instructed by our ministers to use different approaches for Christians and Jews. When I would talk to Christians, I would invite them to visit our church, but when I spoke to Jews, I was told to use the word 'congregation' instead; not to say 'Jesus,' but rather 'Mashiach' (messiah); I would also make sure to replace the phrase 'New Testament' with the term 'second half of the Tanach (Bible)'... This was our method, aimed at hiding our true intentions so that we could deceive naive Jews..."

"Perhaps the best example of this," continued Kluger, "is something one of my advisors once told me: 'When you establish a relationship with a Jew, he must not be permitted to think that he is 'converting' to Christianity. You have to explain to him that he remains a Jew even when he starts believing in Jesus.'" This is of course not true. Just like the Armenian priest on Israel television last night who said that because he believes in Jesus, therefore he is a Christian and not a Jew. Who ever heard of a Jew who believes in Jesus? It's like a vegetarian who consumes meat; the two terms just don't go together."

"Who Ever Heard Of A Jew Who Believes in Jesus?"

This revelatory question by Binyamin Kluger sadly manifests the spiritual darkness in which national Israel continues to exist. Nothing has changed since the first century when its rebellious leaders threatened the disciples of Jesus, warning them to speak to no one, nor teach or preach to any man in that name (Acts 4:16-18).

A very clever false dichotomy (a scheme of the evil one) began in the first century and has taken a firm root in the thinking processes of believing and unbelieving men to this day. This false dichotomy is Jew as opposed to "Christian." The nonsensical idea that if a Jew should believe in Jesus he is automatically rendered a non-Jew. Exampled by Binyamin Kluger's inept question, "Who ever heard of a Jew who believes in Jesus?"

The nature of Mr. Kluger's question is neither honest nor factual, but rooted in the long time bias and age-old prejudicial sentiments toward fellow Jews who have simply believed, based on the conviction of Scriptural evidence, that this Jesus fulfilled the ancient, prophetic, Jewish hope of a coming Messiah. So the question must be asked, how can belief in the fulfillment of an ancient Jewish hope rightfully render a physical descendent of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov a non-Jew? Especially since the hope of Messiah is uniquely Jewish and doctrinally burned into the very fiber of Judaism?

Is it a fundamental rule that any Jew believing in an individual as Messiah must be automatically rendered a non-Jew? If so, then were the estimated 250,000 Jews, world-wide, who believed in the now deceased Lubavitcher rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, as Israel's Messiah automatically rendered non-Jewish? Was the famous Rabbi Akiva, along with his followers, who proclaimed Simon ben Koseva (Bar Kokaba) Messiah all automatically rendered non-Jewish? How about the followers of Menachem Solomon in the 12th century? Or the thousands who followed the Turkish mystic Shabbetai Zevi in the 1700s? Or does this dogma prejudicially apply only to Jews who believe in Y'shua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah)? If so, on what grounds?

The truth is, no true dichotomy does exist between the designations Jew and "Christian." The Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the Greek, teach the age-old division of Jew and Gentile within humanity, but no such division is ever taught between Jew and "Christian" in reference to a physical descendent of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. The division does not exist because it cannot! There simply is no Scriptural basis for it. If a Jewish believer in Y'shua is not a Jew, then what is he? He has not become a Gentile since his ancestral lineage has not changed and his religious belief is as inherently Jewish as his Messiah (Jesus is a Jew, you know). "Oh," you protest, "half the Gentile world has believed in this Jesus. How could this be Jewish?" But this should not seem strange to the Scripturally informed Jewish mind. That the Gentiles would one day believe in the Jewish Messiah was clearly anticipated not only in the Torah but throughout all the Tenach. And this truth was clearly understood and taught by rabbis prior to the first coming of Y'shua (by "first coming" it is anticipated that there will be a second).

You argue, based on your own personal point of view, that the Jew who believes in Jesus has departed from the G-d of Avraham. But then what are you going to do with the majority of Jews in Israel, and throughout the world, who profess to be atheistic or at best agnostic? Unquestionably they have forsaken the G-d is Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. So on what basis are they to be considered Jewish? However, the Jewish believer in Y'shua has not forsaken the G-d of Avraham, but he has searched the Scriptures and has seen and is convinced that Y'shua has truly fulfilled the prophecies regarding the Messiah and praises HaShem for His Messianic faithfulness.

In conclusion, as stated previously, there is no dichotomy between the designations Jew and "Christian," either by definition or faith. It is only natural for a Jew to believe in Jesus. Everything about his faith is Jewish, including his Messiah. And contrary to dominant thought today, it is actually anomalistic for a Gentile, historically steeped in polytheistic paganism, to believe in Jesus who proclaimed only one true G-d, the God of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, the G-d of Israel. Hence, a true work of G-d Himself.

Two thousand years ago "a certain Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people" in Israel, and a member of "the Council" stood up and gave wise counsel to the nation's leaders saying:

"Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For sometime ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundered men joined up with him. And he was slain, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of G-d, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against G-d" (Acts 5).

To this day, two thousand years later, the name of Y'shua HaMashiach has not been overthrown, and the good news regarding the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Him continues to be preached in the streets of Jerusalem and throughout the nation. If Gamaliel was alive, I suspect he just might concede that this work truly "is of G-d."

Written by Gary Nystrom

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